TWO foundations have come together to help alleviate poverty and their work so far in low-income households is showing positive results.
Yayasan Hasanah, the impact-based foundation of Khazanah, partnered with Yayasan Sejahtera to introduce a community-based approach (CBA) in alleviating poverty.
Just two years into implementing the CBA at the Sungai Bonus People’s Housing Project (PPR) in Kuala Lumpur, and Kampung Pinggan Jaya in Kuching, Sarawak, there has been marked improvement in household income, better grades and closer family ties.
The year-end report last year showed that at PPR Sungai Bonus, 20 adult beneficiaries recorded a 30% increase in their income, 83.7% students passed UPSR compared to 67.55% in the previous year and 55% of Form 3 students have improved grades.
In Kampung Pinggan Jaya, 22 adults and youths started earning income from gula apong-related activities and 24 students saw improvements in their year-end examinations.
Hasanah managing director Shahira Ahmed Bazari said they took about one year to create a profile of the residents and build trust.
“There are many non-governmental organisations(NGOs) that extend their help in these areas but for a very short period of time or until their funds deplete. Often times, the community that begins to show improvement goes back to square one after the NGO stops their service.
“We see the need for longer-term involvement to help the communities build a strong foundation so that when we leave, they are able to sustain themselves,” she said.
Sejahtera chairman Tan Sri Faizah Mohd Tahir said problems in poverty-stricken areas are multi-dimensional.
“The CBA works in three stages. The first stage is the understanding stage, where we study the demographics and specific needs of the people.
“The second stage is where different NGOs with separate expertise are invited to conduct their programmes.
“And the final stage is where the community leaders are trained and empowered, so when we leave at the end of the fifth year, the community can sustain itself,” she said.
Faizah said the projects carried out under the CBA model differ from community to community.
“In PPR Sungai Bonus, we focused on areas such as education, mental health, parenting and entrepreneurship skills.
“In Kampung Pinggan Jaya, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak provided technical skills to enhance the community’s production of gula apong, as well as provided education help to the children.
“By the end of the year, the model will also roll out in three more communities – PPR Seri Semarak in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Belud in Sabah and Bachok, Kelantan,” she said.
Shahira said they were documenting their work in the communities to create a framework that could be replicated.
PPR Sungai Bonus resident Jariah Pajri, 46, said she had benefited a lot from the foundation’s effort.
“I quit my job as a secretary to take care of my two children, and my husband became the sole breadwinner.
“Money has always been tight for us. So, I started a small printing shop with Kuala Lumpur City Hall providing a booth at my flat.
“I attended the entrepreneur skills training and learnt bookkeeping to manage my finances better. My income has increased a lot.
“My husband and I also attended the parenting workshop that taught us how to communicate with our children to foster a loving environment,” she said.